On 26th March 2019, the Africa Faith & Justice Network (AFJN) team (Pictured with Congresswoman Karen Bass, in blue) attended the congressional hearing titled “Looking Forward: US-Africa Relations” by the House Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations. We want to offer a brief summary and commentary of what was said.
CHINA in Africa
The influence of China has increased enormously while America has taken a backseat, which presents political, economic, and strategic threats to U.S. interests on the continent. It was suggested that the U.S. should increase engagement with African leaders without delay in the areas of trade, democracy, and security. So, is the U.S. trying to compete with China in Africa? It was made clear that the US is not in the business of countering China’s efforts in Africa. Rather, the U.S. wants to represent itself as a better partner with unparalleled economic and democratic strategies that China does not provide. AFJN is of the opinion that U.S. influence in the area of democracy is crucial in helping oppressed Africans regain the political space and all kinds of rights that African dictators have taken from citizens. This is a value set that China does not offer at all in terms of competition with the US in Africa. On the political level, there is very little Africans can gain from China because it is autocratic and current African political systems lean more towards democracy. However, Africa can benefit from the meritocracy embedded in the Chinese political system, which would be a good replacement of the nepotism, tribalism, and other “isms” that are embedded in African government systems.
AID & TRADE with Africa
Aid and trade was also mentioned as a solution to helping with economic investments in Africa. It is important to remember that time and time again that credible economic organizations have documented that more money comes out of Africa than Africa receives in foreign aid. Therefore, it is AFJN’s opinion that foreign aid as a policy to advance Africa should not be the primary focus to reach Africans’ goal of economic development. Rather, fair trade, promotion of good governance can go a long way to deliver the aspirations of African people to be prosperous. AFJN supports strengthening trade amongst countries as one of the ways forward as it is likely to deliver positive results as long as it is combined with good governance. Similarly, it is important to acknowledge some of the US programs and initiatives that have been successful in Africa namely the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the Power Africa.
Click here if you would like to watch the hearing (please skip to 55:00 to watch)
Please click here to read Joshua Mesevey’s Testimony
Please click here to read Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield’s Testimony
Please click here to read Dr. Brahima Coulibaly’s Testimony